Email sent on March 22, 2006
Thank you for your response.  However, I respectfully disagree, and I think you could have had public discussions prior to April 3rd in the context of the entire budget.  
I would not make a recommendation to release allocations without discussing the budget - in effect, to hide this important step of the budget work of the school district from the School Board and from the public.  Further, I do not feel that the School Board majority understands the implications for their roles as Board members by not having public discussions about the budget and allocations prior to the release of allocations to schools on April 3rd.
I see little merit in what is being done and I see important decisions being hidden from the board and the public until it's "too late"  and cuts and major changes continue to be made out of context of the entire budget with little time for any meaningful public discussion.  You apparently did not understand my suggestion, because my advice to the School Board for their consideration was that if you have to follow contract timelines, then "some form" of a completed budget would need to be at the School Board prior to sending out  allocations that would include cuts to services and classes and developing surplus notices in early April that would include staffing cuts.  Yes, cuts need to be in context of the budget, but if you're making cuts on April 3rd via allocations, you need to have some form of budget in place to do this step and it should be made available for public discussion earlier - not hide this step from the public and keep the rest of the steps the same at the backend after a final document is printed, leaving little time for public discussion or any meaningful board input.  
Simply stated cuts will be sent out April 3rd if you are using a balanced budget, because you have already informed the board there will be about $8 million in cuts.  There will be an additional $350,000 cuts  to the operating budget if an addition to Leopold is paid out of the operation budget.  Between now and April 3rd, no Finance and Operations Committee meetings nor Board meetings are scheduled to have these discussions.  Unresolved board level discussions about pets in the classroom appear to be taking priority over important budget issues and discussions such as this.
Question:  Will allocations be a) based upon a cost plus basis, b) based upon a balanced budget, c) based upon both or some combination of both and Board members will have no discussions re the allocation of resources?  Also, will you be factoring in the costs of paying for an addition onto Leopold into the budget numbers being used to develop and to allocate resources, which I understand would imply an additional $350,000 cut from the operating budget.    
I don't believe all the school board members understand or know what budget will be used when allocations are sent to schools on april 3rd.  I don't believe the public knows or understands this either.   This is what parents care about - what resources will be in their child's school.  Parents do not know that cuts will be made and "finalized" by April 10th for all practical purposes without any public discussion prior to these decisions.  Chatting about this in May more than a month after allocations are "done" does not make sense.  However, it does cut down on opportunities for various parents, students, teachers and other community members to speak before the board during public appearances, which is something I have heard board members complain about.  Personally, I believe in public debate and discussion of important issues.  This process takes that opportunity away from the community.
As a parent or PTO board member, I have received  no information via school newsletter or other backpack mail about the budget planning process for 2006-2007 and giving updates.  I haven't received any information for input/discussions about allocations.
I also know from past years that specific allocations are given to schools for elementary string teachers, discretionary in middle school, etc.  For example, if no allocations are given for elementary string FTEs, which is done on a districtwide basis, on April 3rd, then you have decided to eliminate the course if you used balanced budget numbers. Elementary principals will know that immediately and so should the teachers and public - no "planning" is necessary.  This cuts and changes the curriculum, which requires Board approval to do since state law requires the School Board to approve the music education curriculum plan, as you know.  Also, I would expect surplus notices to be sent to other teachers, TAG changes, there will be larger classrooms - what sizes and what does the board think about different sizes, etc.  What about the new middle school redesign?  Many of these assumptions and allocations are districtwide and out of the control of the school principals.
I know this process well and very personally, because my family and other teachers' families go through this each and every year - surplusing.   If we cannot have confidence that you will be open and forthcoming to the School Board and to the public about what is going out on April 3rd and the entire budget, then I and I feel others in the public will loose our confidence in our leadership.  I don't believe we can afford that loss, because our community needs to pass referendums to keep Madison's wonderful schools strong.  
Lastly, I believe the public should have this information now, as in prior years, because these allocations say much about what our School District is about and what are school leaders are doing.  And, this, in my humble opinion, is important to have clearly before the public especially before spring board elections.  
Barb Schrank,
parent, PTO board member, spouse of music teacher, public school advocate, campaign treasurer - and artist, taxpayer
On 3/22/06 7:43 AM, "Art Rainwater" <> wrote:
> Barb
> We will follow the budget schedule as presented to the Board.  As you
> will recall, you and others raised a concern about the cut list being
> released without the full budget being released at the same time.  We
> believe that there was merit to that concern.  The early release of the
> cut list placed it out of context with what was being retained in the
> budget.  Since the cut list is not necessary until the Board begins it
> deliberations it will be released as a part of the full budget package
> in late April in accordance with the schedule presented to the Board.
> The allocations that each school gets are based on much more than the
> budget cuts.  The primary driver for school allocations is the
> enrollment changes that are anticipated due to enrollment shifts
> predicted by our enrollment projections.  Changes in the demographics of
> the school are also a factor in allocating the supplemental allocation.
> The timing for the allocation process is driven by our contractual
> obligations for notification of staff and our transfer process, not the
> budget process.
> Art
>>>> Barbara Schrank User <> 3/21/06 10:21:59 PM
> Art,
> The current budget timeline on the MMSD website (updated 3/15/06) says
> allocations will go to schools on April 3rd and are due back to HR on
> April
> 10.  
> What is the basis for the allocations?  Will the allocations be based
> upon
> cost plus budget or a balanced budget?  If they are based upon a
> balanced
> budget, what positions are being cut to meet a balanced budget?  When
> would
> that information be available to the School Board (and therefore the
> public)?  When would the board have that discussion?
> In previous years, the administration has developed a cut list to get
> to a
> balanced budget and then used this list to send out allocations to
> schools
> and that list and justifications were available in early March.  I
> remember
> Board discussing allocation issues prior to mailing allocations to
> schools.
> What process is being used this year?  We are already in the latter
> part of
> March.
> Thank you.
> Barb Schrank